Questioner: People come to you for advice. How do you know what to answer?
Maharaj: As I hear the question, so do I hear the answer.
Q: And how do you know that your answer is right?
M: Once I know the true source of the answers, I need not doubt them. From a pure source only pure water will flow. I am not concerned with people's desires and fears. I am in tune with facts, not with opinions. Man takes his name and shape to be himself, while I take nothing to be myself. Were I to think myself to be a body known by its name, I would not have been able to answer your questions. Were I to take you to be a mere body, there would be no benefit to you from my answers. No true teacher indulges in opinions. He sees things as they are and shows them as they are. If you take people to be what they think themselves to be, you will only hurt them, as they hurt themselves so grievously all the time. But if you see them as they are in reality, it will do them enormous good. If they ask you what to do, what practices to adopt, which way of life to follow, answer: 'Do nothing, just be. In being all happens naturally.'
Q: It seems to me that in your talks you use the words 'naturally' and 'accidentally' indiscriminately.
I feel there is a deep difference in the meaning of the two words. The natural is orderly, subject to law; one can trust nature; the accidental is chaotic, unexpected, unpredictable. One could plead that everything is natural, subject to nature's laws; to maintain that everything is accidental, without any cause, is surely an exaggeration.
M: Would you like it better if I use the word 'spontaneous' instead of 'accidental'?
Q: You may use the word 'spontaneous' or 'natural' as opposed to 'accidental'. In the accidental there is the element of disorder, of chaos. An accident is always a breach of rules, an exception, a surprise.
M: Is not life itself a stream of surprises?
Q: There is harmony in nature. The accidental is a disturbance.
M: You speak as a person, limited in time and space, reduced to the contents of a body and a mind. What you like, you call 'natural' and what you dislike, you call 'accidental'.
Q: I like the natural, and the law-abiding, the expected and I fear the law-breaking, the disorderly, the unexpected, the meaningless. The accidental is always monstrous. There may be so-called 'lucky accidents', but they only prove the rule that in an accident-prone universe life would be impossible.
M: I feel there is a misunderstanding. By 'accidental' I mean something to which no known law applies. When I say everything is accidental, uncaused, I only mean that the causes and the laws according to which they operate are beyond our knowing, or even imagining. If you call what you take to be orderly, harmonious, predictable, to be natural, then what obeys higher laws and is moved by higher powers may be called spontaneous. Thus, we shall have two natural orders: the personal and predictable and the impersonal, or super-personal, and unpredictable. Call it lower nature and higher nature and drop the word accidental. As you grow in knowledge and insight, the borderline between lower and higher nature keeps on receding, but the two remain until they are seen as one. For, in fact, everything is most wonderfully inexplicable!
Q: Science explains a lot.
M: Science deals with names and shapes, quantities and qualities, patterns and laws; it is all right in its own place. But life is to be lived; there is no time for analysis. The response must be instantaneous -- hence the importance of the spontaneous, the timeless. It is in the unknown that we live and move. the known is the past.
Q: I can take my stand on what I feel I am. I am an individual, a person among persons. Some people are integrated and harmonised, and some are not. Some live effortlessly, respond spontaneously to every situation correctly, doing full justice to the need of the moment, while others fumble, err and generally make a nuisance of themselves. The harmonised people may be called natural, ruled by law, while the disintegrated are chaotic and subject to accidents.
M: The very idea of chaos presupposes the sense of the orderly, the organic, the inter-related. Chaos and cosmos: are they not two aspects of the same state?
Q: But you seem to say that all is chaos, accidental, unpredictable.
M: Yes, in the sense that not all the laws of being are known and not all events are predictable.
The more you are able to understand, the more the universe becomes satisfactory, emotionally and mentally. Reality is good and beautiful; we create the chaos.
Q: If you mean to say that it is the free will of man that causes accidents, I would agree. But we have not yet discussed free will.
M: Your order is what gives you pleasure and disorder is what gives you pain.
Q: You may put it that way, but do not tell me that the two are one. Talk to me in my own language -- the language of an individual in search of happiness. I do not want to be misled by non-dualistic talks.
M: What makes you believe that you are a separate individual?
Q: I behave as an individual. I function on my own. I consider myself primarily, and others only in relation to myself. In short, I am busy with myself.
M: Well, go on being busy with yourself. On what business have you come here?
Q: On my old business of making myself safe and happy. I confess I have not been too successful. I am neither safe nor happy. Therefore, you find me here. This place is new to me, but my reason for coming here is old: the search for safe happiness, happy safety. So far I did not find it. Can you help me?
M: What was never lost can never be found. Your very search for safety and joy keeps you away from them. Stop searching, cease losing. The disease is simple and the remedy equally simple. It is your mind only that makes you insecure and unhappy. Anticipation makes you insecure, memory -unhappy. Stop misusing your mind and all will be well with you. You need not set it right -- it will set itself right, as soon as you give up all concern with the past and the future and live entirely in the now.
Q: But the now has no dimension. I shall become a nobody, a nothing !
M: Exactly. As nothing and nobody you are safe and happy. You can have the experience for the asking. Just try.
But let us go back to what is accidental and what is spontaneous, or natural. You said nature is orderly while accident is a sign of chaos. I denied the difference and said that we call an event accidental when its causes are untraceable. There is no place for chaos in nature. Only in the mind of man there is chaos. The mind does not grasp the whole -- its focus is very narrow. It sees fragments only and fails to perceive the picture. Just as a man who hears sounds, but does not understand the language, may accuse the speaker of meaningless jabbering, and be altogether wrong. What to one is a chaotic stream of sounds is a beautiful poem to another.
King Janaka once dreamt that he was a beggar. On waking up he asked his Guru -- Vasishta: Am I a king dreaming of being a beggar, or a beggar dreaming of being a king? The Guru answered: You are neither, you are both. You are, and yet you are not what you think yourself to be. You are because you behave accordingly; you are not because it does not last. Can you be a king or a beggar for ever? All must change. You are what does not change. What are you? Janaka said: Yes, I am neither king nor beggar, I am the dispassionate witness. The Guru said. This is your last illusion that you are a jnani, that you are different from, and superior to, the common man. Again you identify yourself with your mind, in this case a well-behaved and in every way an exemplary mind. As long as you see the least difference, you are a stranger to reality. You are on the level of the mind. When the 'I am myself' goes, the 'I am all' comes. When the 'I am all' goes, 'I am' comes. When even 'I am' goes, reality alone is and in it every 'I am' is preserved and glorified. Diversity without separateness is the Ultimate that the mind can touch. Beyond that all activity ceases, because in it all goals are reached and all purposes fulfilled.
Q: Once the Supreme State is reached, can it be shared with others?
M: The Supreme State is universal, here and now; everybody already shares in it. It is the state of being -- knowing and liking. Who does not like to be, or does not know his own existence? But we take no advantage of this joy of being conscious, we do not go into it and purify it of all that is foreign to it. This work of mental self-purification, the cleansing of the psyche, is essential. Just as a speck in the eye, by causing inflammation, may wipe out the world, so the mistaken idea: 'I am the body-mind' causes the self-concern, which obscures the universe. It is useless to fight the sense of being a limited and separate person unless the roots of it are laid bare. Selfishness is rooted in the mistaken ideas of oneself. Clarification of the mind is Yoga.